Last January 16, Gail Churchill, a volunteer with Island Cat Resources & Adoption in Alameda (ICRA, for short) was feeding a small group of feral cats in Oakland when she noticed that a new one – a black and brown tabby – had joined the group. What caught her eye was that he had a notched ear, meaning he had already been neutered.
Over the next few days he came closer and closer to her and wanted to be petted. That's when she noticed several oozing wounds on his back that were now abscessed.
The next day she came back with a cat carrier and whisked him off to the vet.
"I didn't know how he would respond to being picked up," she says, "but he must have known better days were ahead of him because he was gentle and willing to go into the carrier."
The vet found four deep bite wounds that required shaving, cleaning, and drainage tubes inserted under Austin's – that's what she named him – skin. ""All this was done with only a local anesthetic because he was so sweet and calm during the whole procedure."
The next day he was able to go home – "I was NOT going to let him go back outside!" – and got along famously with Rosie the golden retriever and Gail's other cats.
A few days later, Gail got a call from a very nice woman in Berkeley named Judy Bertelsen, who was looking for an adult male cat to keep her 10-year-old female, Amanda, company. It was a perfect match.
Amanda had settled down into a sedentary life as an old lady until Austin arrived, but now she's enjoying a second youth.
"She is really enjoying playing with Austin, and he with her," Judy reports. "They love the cloths that are draped over a chair and the futon because one of them can hide behind the cloth and stick a paw and/or nose out, and the other one can pounce. They are absolutely wonderful. I recall Eckhart Tolle's comment that he had lived with a number of Zen Masters, all of them cats."
Austin is just one of hundreds of homeless kitties that are rescued each year by ICRA. Since this group began, they have spayed or neutered 16,000 cats (Think of all the unwanted kittens that were never born because of them!) and placed more than 3,300 kitties in loving new homes.
I've covered a lot of worthy organizations, but ICRA gets more bang for its buck than any other group I've seen. Not a penny goes to salaries; everybody is a volunteer. All the money goes to the kitties.
Their major fundraiser of the year – a champagne silent auction - is coming up Saturday, May 7, from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Alameda Elks Lodge, 2255 Santa Clara Avenue (basement level). Apart from the auction items – fine jewelry, trips to Disneyland, wine, gift certificates, pet goodies and original artwork – it's always a great party, featuring champagne, wine, vegetarian munchies and live entertainment.
Suggested door donation is $40, but passes for $35 can be purchased online in advance at . if you can't make the party but would like to support ICRA anyway, you can do it online at .
Tell 'em Austin sent you.